pre·​var·​i·​cate | \ pri-ˈver-ə-ˌkāt How to pronounce prevaricate (audio) , -ˈva-rə- \
prevaricated; prevaricating

Definition of prevaricate

intransitive verb

: to deviate from the truth : equivocate

Other Words from prevaricate

prevarication \ pri-​ˌver-​ə-​ˈkā-​shən How to pronounce prevaricate (audio) , -​ˌva-​rə-​ \ noun
prevaricator \ pri-​ˈver-​ə-​ˌkā-​tər How to pronounce prevaricate (audio) , -​ˈva-​rə-​ \ noun

Synonyms for prevaricate


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lie, prevaricate, equivocate, palter, fib mean to tell an untruth. lie is the blunt term, imputing dishonesty. lied about where he had been prevaricate softens the bluntness of lie by implying quibbling or confusing the issue. during the hearings the witness did his best to prevaricate equivocate implies using words having more than one sense so as to seem to say one thing but intend another. equivocated endlessly in an attempt to mislead her inquisitors palter implies making unreliable statements of fact or intention or insincere promises. a swindler paltering with his investors fib applies to a telling of a trivial untruth. fibbed about the price of the new suit

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Prevaricate and its synonyms lie and equivocate all refer to playing fast and loose with the truth. Lie is the bluntest of the three. When you accuse someone of lying, you are saying that person was intentionally dishonest, no bones about it. Prevaricate is less accusatory and softens the bluntness of lie, usually implying that someone is evading the truth rather than purposely making false statements. Equivocate is similar to prevaricate, but it generally implies that someone is deliberately using words that have more than one meaning as a way to conceal the truth.

Examples of prevaricate in a Sentence

Government officials prevaricated about the real costs of the project. during the hearings the witness was willing to prevaricate in order to protect his friend
Recent Examples on the Web When history’s vicious victors prevaricate about how the West was lost, maybe movies such as Cry Macho, Richard Jewell, The Mule, and The 15:17 to Paris will survive to tell a different, more complicated and compassionate story. Armond White, National Review, 17 Sep. 2021 An enemy would simply prevaricate and bide their time, knowing that the other side can pull back from the brink before it’s too late. Andy Meek, BGR, 3 Aug. 2021 When an administration prevaricates on climate change, the effects won’t be felt for years, and even then will be hard to parse. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 25 Mar. 2020 Until disclosures are made mandatory, companies are likely to prevaricate. The Economist, 21 Sep. 2019 Until the American public, whom doctors are well placed to inform, steps into this debate to demand action, Congress will continue to prevaricate. Annabelle Timsit, Quartz India, 19 Aug. 2019 Every transfer situation is unique, and, on this particular occasion, why not just pay up instead of needlessly prevaricating?, 5 Aug. 2019 Anna hemmed and hawed and dissembled and prevaricated and, as the women got increasingly angry, allowed two fat tears to roll down her cheeks. Jessica Pressler, The Cut, 28 May 2018 Meanwhile, Mohamed Nasheed, the former president whose conviction has now been quashed, prevaricated about returning from exile in Sri Lanka. The Economist, 2 Feb. 2018 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prevaricate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of prevaricate

circa 1625, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for prevaricate

Latin praevaricatus, past participle of praevaricari to act in collusion, literally, to straddle, from prae- + varicare to straddle, from varus bowlegged

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The first known use of prevaricate was circa 1625

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Cite this Entry

“Prevaricate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of prevaricate for Spanish Speakers


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